The real Mountainrunner surveys her trail.

After a long pause, and a false start in December, MountainRunner is back. To get a logistical detail out of the way: if you subscribed to email updates from mountainrunner last month, last year, or last decade, you will need to re-subscribe as those subscribers will not (in fact, cannot) be migrated over to the new e-letter system. Subscribe hereContinue reading “Reboot

Twitter Digest for recent @MountainRunner-related tweets

Twitter Digest for recent @MountainRunner-related tweets

Twitter Digest for recents @MountainRunner-related tweets

A New MountainRunner

Dear Readers, as you may have noticed, this blog has gotten a facelift.  Over the next week you should see other improvements and a resumption in blogging.  Stay tuned for more, including details on the hiatus.  For the impatient, you can read my comments on Brian’s post at the Public Diplomacy Council.
Notes related to the change in the blog may be found here.

If you’d like to submit a guest post, review the guidelines and then email me.

Disabling and Enabling Comments on the Blog

For anyone who tried to comment on the blog this week, and I know of at least one person, the comment capability was temporarily disabled by this blog’s hosting service. On occasion, the steady flow of attacks from spammers and others cause the host to disable various scripts (usually but not always the comment script) that support this site to protect the server on which it runs. Several times a year, the attacks (again, mostly but not entirely, spam) amount to a denial of service.

The blog is now fully restored. Comment at will.

R.I.P. Phil Taylor

Phil Taylor, professor of International Communications at the University of Leeds, United Kingdom, passed away on 6 December 2010. Phil was a terrific and underappreciated researcher and thinker on the subject of influence and propaganda. A prolific writer on the subjects, he devoted tremendous time and energy into unveiling both historical and contemporary propaganda.

John Brown described Phil as “one of the greats in the study of the art of rhetoric.”

Phil will be missed.

See also:

Abbreviated list of books authored or co-edited by Phil:

Temporary Hiatus

My apologies to the readers, but I’ve had to put the blog (and twitter and other social media) on the back burner for the time being. I’m hoping to resume with gusto next week.

This is also a good time to remind you that I do accept guest posts provided they fit within the general guideline of articulating a subject relevant to public diplomacy and strategic communication, regardless of an emphasis on words or deeds or organization. If you have a post or topic you’d like to share with the community – or event for that matter to be highlighted – email me and I’ll try to facilitate its dissemination in a timely manner.

That all said, stay tuned and don’t change the channel…

Sharing links with

You’ve used,,, and probably a whole slew of other URL shortners. Now, there’s one more: is MountainRunner & the MountainRunner Institute’s own shortener service. Friends of MountainRunner and the MountainRunner Institute are welcome to use the shortner. Just email me and I’ll provide the API key.

A URL shortner reduces URLs into a much shorter set of character so they can be easily shared, tweeted or emailed to friends. For example, the URL for my article on the BBG at Layalina is Using, it becomes more friendly to Twitter, Facebook and even email:

Go on, email me and start to use it.


Next week is the “Sixth International Scientific Conference on Security and Counter Terrorism Issues” at Lomonosov Moscow State University, November 11-12. My presentation on Thursday is titled “Now Media: a New Democracy of Influence.”

Needless to say, I will have limited access to email and will not be posting to the blog during this trip.

Summer Vacation


Posting on MountainRunner will be a bit slow… slower than usual as I’m in Hawaii on vacation. Although, there will be bouts of work here and there, like today’s posting of many items of interest/import before returning to play with the kids, work on my tan or running some select trails in the neighborhood before returning to London in two weeks for the European IO conference.  


Expanding the MountainRunner Team: Renee Lee is growing: today begins a new era as this blog will have its first regular contributor: Renee Lee.  Renee will post on material – online and offline – we believe is important enough to be considered by the individual or organization interested in public diplomacy, strategic communication (or “signaling integration”), and global engagement.

Renee’s official title is communication operations officer, which is a fancy way of saying she’s helping me with engagement across all mediums both here at the blog and at the MountainRunner Institute

Renee Lee is a graduate student in the Master of Public Diplomacy program at the University of Southern California. Renee spent six years in the U.S. Air Force as a public affairs officer in the Asia-Pacific region. Renee graduated cum laude from the University of Washington in 2003, earning a B.A. in Communications.

And, it’s worth noting, continues to welcome guest posts on issues related to the blog’s focus.  Criteria are (generally): 600-1200 words, no product or service promotion, and no lobbying. 

Welcome Renee!

P.S. I’ll admit “Communication Operations Officer” is not my favorite title, but both PAO and Assistant were inadequate.  The proposed replaced “Strategic Communication” which doesn’t lend itself to a title very well: “Signaling Integration Officer”.  Suggestions?

Upcoming travel

I will be in DC next week to conduct the Information as Power seminar (there is still space to enroll), present at the open meeting of the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy (see link for information on attending), speak with a class at National Defense University, and for several other meetings. I’ll be back in Los Angeles in time to teach my public diplomacy class at the University of Southern California (syllabus, 189kb PDF).

As such, blogging will be slim over the next week. As always, guest posts are welcome. I’m particularly interested in commentary on the QDR, the latest DSB report (seriously?), and the potential impact the recent Supreme Court decision on political speech on global engagement, specifically on the public diplomacy “firewall” and influence by non-US interests (have you seen this?).

Breaking the silence

It’s been quiet here on the blog for several reasons, including a Christmas holiday. Of course, the news hasn’t stopped but I am focusing on clearing a few writing assignments off the desk that will be published elsewhere (I will post links to them when they come out). Among the items on the plate: a recent Congressional Research Service report on public diplomacy (18 December 2009) and required comments on this week’s Walter Pincus article on strategic communication. 

Stay tuned. I hope you’re enjoying the downtime / quiet time.

Global Information Environment

MountainRunner may not have a daily readership of thousands but it does reach a unique and critical audience. For every comment on the blog there are 3-5 offline (email) comments. This audience includes the media, such as Al Kamen and Spencer Ackerman, authors, such as Bing West (The Strongest Tribe and Tom Barnett (Great Powers), the Departments of State and Defense, and Congress (more citations are at the About page). This blog also has a global audience. The image below shows some of the visitors to the blog during November 2009.

MountainRunner reach Nov 2009

Here ends the self-promotion minute…

On the road

I’ve been in DC since Sunday and haven’t had the time (or energy) to blog. I may write something tonight or tomorrow on the plane home, but more than likely not until Monday afternoon (Los Angeles time). A symposium and a conference bookend the trip, with my teaching seminar and (off the record) meetings fill the between time. 

By the way, if you think my seminar on understanding and engaging in the “now media” environment is interesting, then you’ll probably find this of interest as well.

If you are new to the blog, I suggest you explore not just what’s on the front page (including the “pinned” items at the top of the front page) but also the “Featured Posts” available from the menu bar of the blog. While all archived posts on this blog are worthwhile reading repeatedly, the Featured Posts are in some way exceptional, either because of discussions they created or shaped (online or offline) or because the content remains timely. The list is intentionally kept short, so items will drop off over time. Of course, there’s also the “popular” article Hitting Bottom at Foggy Bottom to read if you missed it before (see also this related post).

Blogging will resume, not right now but soon + other comments

The silence on the blog has been unintentionally long. I had planned to post this week while at a conference/workshop this week, but it just didn’t happen. Today’s an abbreviated day for me so I am focusing on correspondence not done while on the plane home. Blogging will resume over the weekend (likely) and return in force next week.

What’s coming: